Friday, March 11, 2011

Avalanches at Whiteface, Colden Trap Dyke

A number of notable avalanches have occurred over the last month in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center officials have told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that two avalanches have occurred this season on the Slides area of the mountain. Officials said both events were triggered by one or more skiers. The most recent (Tuesday morning) is believed to have been caused by someone who entered the Slides area from Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. The Slides are not accessible by chairlifts, but can be accessed by a traverse from the top of the summit chairlift. The previous Whiteface avalanche occurred at the Slides on February 26th. About five avalanches are reported to have occurred at Whiteface over the past ten years.

Forest Ranger Jim Giglinto, who patrols the High Peaks, told the paper that there was an Avalanche in the Trap Dyke during the mid-February thaw. He said there have likely been other avalanches that have not been reported. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued an Avalanche Warning at the beginning of February.

On February 27th of last year two backcountry skiers were caught in an avalanche on Angel Slide, Wright Peak. The potentially deadly avalanche occurred just a month after Phil Brown wrote A Short History of Adirondack Avalanches. Ian Measeck of Glens Falls told his story to Adirondack Almanack readers here. A skier died in an avalanche on the same slide in 2000.

While avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls, as well as during thaws, avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions. DEC warns to take the following precautions when traveling in avalanche prone terrain (between 25 and 50 degree slope with little vegetation): know avalanche rescue techniques; practice safe route finding; carry safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel); never travel alone; know the terrain, weather and snow conditions; and inform someone where you plan to go and when you expect to return.

Information on avalanche danger and safety precautions is available on the DEC website. A brochure titled “Avalanche Preparedness in the Adirondacks” is also available for download [pdf].

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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